…”this is going to be the phenomenal year of years for fishing and boating,” enthused outdoor writer Terry Knight speaking of Clear Lake. With the recent rains Clear Lake is beyond full. Furthermore, “…some guys are catching 50-60-80 fish per day!” he said of the crappie fishing. This was backed-up by fishing guide Ed Legan of Clearlake Family Guide Service. But what has made the news is that Lake County’s Board of Supervisors have temporarily closed Clear Lake to motorized boats. What’s the reel story?
Due to the waters of Clear Lake temporarily reaching flood level during the recent onslaught of huge storms, many of the homes around the lake are in danger of flooding. Some local roads and bridges are close to being under water so, to protect these structures, a temporary ban of motorized craft was placed on Clear Lake. At present the dam is open and is releasing 21,000 cubic feet of water per second but runoff fills the lake faster than it can be emptied causing flood conditions for perimeter properties. Here’s the lowdown on that.
However that has not stopped a lot of people from gathering on the shores of this ancient lake and casting their lines with great success. And what they’re reporting is that the fishing is great from the shores and from human-powered and sail watercraft which are gladly still welcomed on the lake.
Holly Harris of AirKayaks.com already has noticed a huge uptick in the sales of people-powered fishing vessels – she indicated sales were up industry-wide about 27% last year. And these personal fishing vessels allow tremendous freedom and peaceful travels. Plus, at the level that Clear Lake is at today, “you can get to places that you haven’t been able to in the past.”
People-powered watercraft come in all shapes and sizes including hard-shell kayaks, inflatable kayaks, pontoons, dinghies and even stand-up paddleboards specifically designed for fishing.
“The Blackfoot Anglers are a blast!” she noted. Her personal favorite is a stand-up paddleboard specifically designed for fishing. One of the most challenging parts of Harris’ job is reviewing all these boats she’s so enthusiastic about.
“Right now the fishing is very, very good out there,” continued Terry Knight, “Crappie is going crazy and there are plenty of bass.” Of all the spots that Knight thought of, his favorite was fishing from the shoreline at Indian Beach Resort. Troy Bellah of Clearlake Outdoors, a local fishing and tackle shop, pointed to Library Park in Lakeport and Clear Lake State Park as his favorite shore fishing spots.
It doesn’t hurt that Clear Lake State Park was rated best in the west and in the top five nationwide by the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation.
Those who come fishing from the shores or from human-powered vessels are in for another pleasant surprise, according to Melissa Fulton, CEO of the Lake County Chamber. “With 110 miles of shoreline there are plenty of opportunities for shore fishing. And with the abundance of birds we have there is the added attraction of seeing many incredible birds.” Fulton indicated that the Audubon bird count tracked over 300 different types of birds who also love a Clear Lake vacation.
“We have the heron, the greebs doing their mating dances, eagles and so much more.”
It’s hard to beat Clear Lake for fishing, according to Knight, who cited that Clear Lake has been rated the third-best bass fishing lake in the US, and the best west of the Mississippi.
“Don’t forget that there’s music almost every night of the week – there’s so much more than fishing. It just so happens that our fishing is fantastic,” enthused Fulton. “And don’t forget that there’s hiking – we have that hike up Mount Konocti that I’ve enjoyed numerous times. The view from the top is breathtaking,” added Terry Knight.
Local resident Lori Peters-Herren concurred about fishing from a kayak, saying “I love small bass fishing from a kayak – it’s challenging and fun! We generally do this close to Anderson Marsh.” Peters-Herren is also a big fan of the annual catfish derby.
Knight recalled the tale of the largest bass ever caught at Clear Lake. In 1990, an angler caught a 27-inch-long, 17.52-pound bass but nearly botched the catch. “When he caught that fish, it was on for less than a minute,” Knight remembered. “It just passed by the boat and his partner scooped it up in the net. As they were swinging it aboard, the hook fell out.”
Fortunately, the fish was already netted. “That’s the luck of the draw, I guess,” Knight laughed.
Big catches are waiting for you at Clear Lake, where the 11 public boating ramps are all available for free use. Boat rental services are available all around Clear Lake, and you can book an excellent guide through the Lake County Chamber of Commerce. Fishing licences are required, just as anywhere in California, and mussel inspection stickers are mandatory to keep the lake free of invasive species. You can get your inspection stickers at xxxxx.
The US Geological Survey has a website with the water level of Clear Lake.
Check out our fishing guide for Clear Lake, and make plans to go fishing in Lake County for a “reel” good time.